The elite World Travel Leader award winners announced today (1 November) at WTM London 2021.
WTM London has named this year’s World Travel Leaders, the annual recognition of companies and individuals from across the globe that have had a positive impact on a specific region or sector.
The awards presentation will be available to watch on demand from 1 November on the WTM London website, with the winners revealed via virtual interviews.
Businesses were nominated for the awards by WTM Official Media Partners, a group of the world’s leading travel trade media organisations. Industry experts and WTM executives studied the entries to decide which would be the winners.
The criteria for success were the key themes of this year’s WTM London: Reconnect. Rebuild. Innovate.
Winners ranged from trade associations and leading industry individuals to hotel chains and cruise lines.
- The winner from nominees put forward by Canadian Travel Press – Canada’s most well-read travel trade publication – was the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA).
ACTA moved quickly to support travel agents when Canada implemented some of the strictest border restrictions in the world amid the pandemic.
The association worked with other travel and tourism industry stakeholders to lobby for the safe reopening of borders.
It also lobbied and won its campaign for travel agent commission to be protected when the Canadian government mandated consumer refunds as part of its financial aid packages to Canadian airlines and their tour operations.
- Hotel management company Felix Hotels was the winner from nominees put forward by L’Agenzia di Viaggi of Italy.
Established by two Sardinian entrepreneurs, Agostino Cicalò and Paolo Manca, it made its debut in October 2020 despite the on-going pandemic.
It now offers seven hotels and residences in sought-after holiday destinations in Sardinia.
An advertising campaign was launched in June in six countries: UK, Germany, Holland, France, Switzerland and Italy.
- The winner from nominees put forward by Trav Talk India – South Asia’s leading travel trade news magazine – was Waxpol Hotels & Resorts.
It set up a Covid taskforce to help its teams to stay safe, providing access to medical care if needed, and extending additional financial support. There have been no lay-offs or pay cuts.
The company has also supported local schools by providing separate toilets for girls; desks and chairs for classrooms; library and sports facilities; screens with internet connectivity for digital education; and playground equipment.
Furthermore, it worked with others in the industry to develop Covid-19 guidelines and training for homestays, camps, resorts and hotels.
- The winner from nominees put forward by Hosteltur was Viajes El Corte Ingles, one of the largest networks of face-to-face travel agencies in Spain.
All or most of its travel agencies closed during lockdown, so turnover fell by almost 89%.
It pivoted to offer an Omni channel service, developing ways to serve customers online and on the phone.
It also merged with the Spanish online travel agency Logitravel, establishing a joint company with more than 500 shops and a workforce of more than 5,000 people, “to create a tourist group that positions itself as the leader of Spanish-speaking travel agencies”.
The agency has also developed technology to better manage business trips.
- Richard Fain, Chief Executive and Chairman, Royal Caribbean Group, was the winner from nominees put forward by Travel Weekly US.
While the US cruise industry was forbidden to operate by the government for over a year, Fain kept in touch with travel agents through a series of inspiring, personal videos, filmed in his garden by his wife.
The cruise giant also provided $40 million dollars in interest-free loans to travel agencies and partnered with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to create the Healthy Sail Panel, a group of health and sanitation experts which came up with 74 recommendations for how cruising could resume.
- The winner from nominees put forward by Travel & Tourism News (TTN) Middle East was Shurooq, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority.
Over past two years it has overseen the completion of several projects as Sharjah diversifies its economy and develops more eco-tourism and adventure travel options.
The projects include the rebuilding of Kalba as an eco-tourism destination; and hiking routes and an observatory at Khorfakkan; and new glamping resort called The Moon Retreat.
- New ships and sustainability credentials were key factors in the success of MSC Cruises, the winner from nominees put forward by TTG Media UK.
Launched during the pandemic, MSC Virtuosa and MSC Seaside gave the cruise line the opportunity to maintain excitement around the brand and prioritise sustainability messages.
Both ships feature technology to cut emissions; shore-to-ship power connectivity, allowing them to connect to local power grids while at ports; and energy efficient developments to help MSC Cruises towards its ambitious 2.5% year-on-year fuel consumption reduction target.
- The winner from nominees put forward by Russian travel publisher Tourbus was Radisson Collection Paradise Resort & Spa, Sochi.
The resort is the ideal base for exploring the Russian Riviera, offering views of the sea and mountains from 508 rooms and six villas.
Located in the Olympic park and with its own sandy beach, the hotel hosts business events as well as leisure travellers.
It promotes ecological and sustainable tourism, supporting the preservation of the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains.
- The winner from nominees put forward by Mercado & Eventos in Brazil was Bruno Wendling, Director President of Mato Grosso do Sul Tourism Foundation and President of the Brazilian Tourism Secretary Forum (Fornatur).
He lobbied politicians for laws and financial support to help the travel sector.
Initiatives he developed include a campaign called ‘Welcome, but wearing a mask’; training for new products and technological solutions; and marketing drives.
- The winner from nominees put forward by the UK’s B2B technology publication, Travolution, was global travel management platform TravelPerk, for its development of the TravelSafe API.
This allows travel providers to supply customers with real-time insights on Covid-19 travel restrictions, including point-to-point travel information, travel documents, regional transmission levels, local guidelines, airline safety measures and more.
WTM London’s Senior Director, Simon Press, said:
“WTM’s global network of media partners are in daily touch with travel and tourism professionals across our sector. Their regional know-how and connections mean that the winners of World Travel Leaders are truly representative of the best in our industry.
“We have been hugely impressed by the way that entrepreneurial travel firms and executives around the world have adapted so quickly and smartly to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and how they epitomise our motto of Reconnect. Rebuild. Innovate.”